to Terrorism Symposium
to LISTEN to excerpts from the Symposium.
will need to have RealPlayer installed on your system to be
able to hear the audio file. RealPlayer can be downloaded
for free at www.real.com.
is Lauder Professor of International Relations and a member of our
History Department. Professor Waldron joined Penn's faculty in 1998
after leaving the Naval War College where he was Professor of Strategy
and Policy. Professor Waldron has written extensively on Chinese
history and China's place in the world during the first half of
the 20th century. But, he has larger interests in the subject of
war and offers popular undergraduate courses in warfare and the
impact of war from ancient times to the present.
Aspect of Terrrorism
has many aspects: it has social and political roots and connections
that make it inseparable from larger problems of social equity.
I could talk about all of that but my colleagues will do far better.
So I will limit my own remarks to the military aspect of terrorism--that
is, what kind of a use of violence is it, what are its effects,
how is it to be dealt with?
me say that this was probably the most impressive act of terrorism
in history, so far. Targets of great symbolic and practical significance
were hit and destroyed, thousands of people were killed--and all
of this was done in complete secrecy. Total surprise was achieved.
Furthermore, the sword was borrowed. No need to smuggle explosives:
these were supplied courtesy of American and United Airlines in
the unparalleled precision operation of the simultaneous hijacking
of four airliners--using box cutters and knives.
impressively, this was the work of a handful of people. Perhaps
fifty at the most, I think. Had they come out and fought in conventional
fashion, we would have had no need even for the U.S. Army or the
National Guard. They would have been no match for the New York City
the terrorists this week did not accommodate us. They fought unconventionally,
or asymmetrically, if you will, inflicting disproportionate damage
and--as is obvious--creating a national and international effect
the immense size of which is entirely disproportionate to their
this is the first point about terrorism. It is the weapon of the
few, or of the weak. It is a multiplier, a way of increasing the
influence of those who resort to it, not by dint of logic or even
the justice of their appeal, but by the sheer disproportionate amount
of harm they cause.
used to be that the need for secrecy and therefore to keep numbers
very small limited the military effectiveness of terrorists. All
a few men could do was throw a few bombs or, if lucky, kill someone
important. That was the caricature "mad bomber" of the end of the
nineteenth century, when there was a wave of politically destabilizing
assassinations and other terrorist acts. But if those terrorists
had grown bigger--if they had tried to form a true private army--they
could easily be infiltrated and dealt with.
however, largely as a result of technological advances and a degree
of sponsorship by a network of states, terrorists have far more
resources. They have easy access to explosive such as Semtex, invented
in Czechoslovakia during the period of Soviet occupation, and almost
impossible to detect. Even a semi-competent amateur drug chemist
can easily produce toxins such as Sarin and Ricin, which can kill
thousands--released, for example, into a subway. They have far more
money than ever before, from oil and narcotics and friendly governments,
and a whole series of states within which they can move without
being challenged. Some have anti-aircraft missiles. Ballistic missiles
and weapons of mass destruction, not just nuclear weapons but things
like anthrax bacilli, are next. I suspect many of you here today
will, in the course of your lives, witness far more horrible acts
of destruction even than those we saw on Tuesday.
if this is perhaps the most impressive act of terrorism in history
so far, it is also perhaps the most catastrophic American intelligence
failures since Pearl Harbor. How was it we had no clue what was
about to hit us? For the best way to stop terrorism is not through
security measures, identity screening, posting of guards, etc. It
is by intelligence and advanced warning, "foreknowledge" as the
great Chinese strategist Sun Zi wrote:
the reason the enlightened prince and the wise general conquer
the enemy whenever they move and their achievements surpass those
of ordinary men is foreknowledge. What is called foreknowledge
cannot be elicited from spirits, nor from gods, nor by analogy
with past events, nor from calculations. It must be obtained from
men who know the enemy situation. [ Art of War, tr. Griffith,
is to say, you need men on the spot, infiltrators, spies. And here
we are woefully inadequate. Listen to these remarks by one intelligence
CIA probably doesn't have a single truly qualified Arabic-speaking
officer of Middle Eastern background who can play a believable
Muslim fundamentalist who would volunteer to spend years of his
life with shitty food and no women in the mountains of Afghanistan.
For Christ's sake, most case officers live in the suburbs of Virginia.
We don't do that kind of thing. [Reuel Marc Gerecht, a former
senior Near East Division operative, quoted in the Financial
Times, 12 September, 2001, p. 14]
had the honor last year and earlier this year of serving as a member
of the top secret investigative commission led by General Tilelli,
former Army Commander in Korea, and established by the Director
of Central Intelligence, George Tenet at Congressional insistence,
to review the CIA's work on China. We could look at anything we
wanted and more or less roam at will--and although the report remains
Top Secret, press reports suggest that it was very negative and
unfavorable to the Agency.
I can't comment on that but I do believe that our intelligence agencies
have two problems, neither of which is directly budget related.
The first is a preference for technical means--i.e. satellites,
communications monitoring, and so forth, which produces vast amounts
of material. The second is a failure sufficiently to emphasize "humint"--human
intelligence--which, as Sun Zi correctly observes, is the only way
to judge your adversary's intent.
I were president right now, I would immediately replace the current
Director of Central Intelligence with someone equipped to do at
the Agency what Mr. Rumsfeld is attempting at the Pentagon: namely,
a long overdue housecleaning, from top to bottom. In particular
I would emphasize the need for brainpower, rather than manpower
alone, and attempt to revive the Directorate of Operations.
said, what do we do?
temptation is to do something: as they say, to "take the
gloves off." But no such option exists and attempts to do so will
only make things worse. Here I would point out the predicament of
the Israelis, who today face a military threat unlike any they have
faced before and for which, quite frankly, they are at a loss for
a military solution. The reason, of course, is that there is no
purely military solution, as some imagined in the heady days just
after the Six Day War. But by the same token, any solution will
also have a military component.
don't need what we call a "firepower demonstration" in which is
it is shown that advanced aircraft and missiles in large quantities
can, if fact, utterly to obliterate some wretched shepherd's hut
in the mountains of Afghanistan, or kill thousands of mountain goats,
or worse still, thousands of innocent civilians.
do we need to appoint a "terrorism tsar" and engage in a lot of
is what we need to do, and I think Undersecretary of Defense Paul
Wolfowitz captured it today when he spoke of the need for a "sustained
we have to reconstruct the operation that hit us with such devastating
impact. We have to determine exactly how it was carried out and
by whom, and what we did wrong to allow it to happen.
we have to go to our allies and not-so-allies and talk about joint
action. The most important thing I learned in my seven years at
the Naval War College was that alliances, even more than technology,
are the key to success in warfare. That means working closely with
the British, the French--who will sympathize, I think, because a
few years ago the Algerian extremists had a plan to hijack a plane
and take out the Eiffel Tower--and the other Europeans, but also
the Indians, and the Russians and the Chinese, who will want to
horse trade over Chechnya and Xinjiang, where they are busy killing
their own Muslims in the name of combating terrorism. And of course
the Pakistanis, who are key. I was greatly encouraged to hear on
the radio, just before coming over here, that Secretary Powell is
already in touch with them. We have to make clear that this is a
war on extremists and terrorists, and not on Muslims. If it turns
into the second, then we will have lost it before we have even begun.
once we have unraveled the whole thing, we eliminate the terrorist
network root and branch, and kill the people responsible for the
murder of innocent Americans.
quail at the thought of actually killing terrorists. I was once
told about the briefing of Warren Christopher before the ill fated
Desert One attempt, in the Carter Administration, to rescue our
hostages from Iran. There will be sentries, the briefer told Mr.
Christopher, and we will neutralize them. "You mean you will shoot
them?" asked Mr. Christopher. "Yes," came the answer. "You mean
in the knees or something, you won't kill them of course." Mr. Christopher
responded. The briefer nearly fainted. The fact is that in war,
and in particular in an operation as delicate as Desert One was
(which failed) lethal force is essential.
our law, terrorism is seen as a kind of homicide, so once they are
caught, terrorists go to jail. But it is not a type of homicide,
it is a variety of war and should be treated as such. Certainly
we must make efforts of every kind to create a world in which no
one will be driven to such desperation as to become a terrorist
or a suicide bomber. That is part of the solution, no doubt. But
so, unfortunately, is bloodshed part of the solution.
me quote Clausewitz:
are not interested in generals who win victories without bloodshed.
The fact that slaughter is a horrifying spectacle must make us
take war more seriously, but not provide an excuse for gradually
blunting our swords in the name of humanity. Sooner or later someone
will come along with a sharp sword and hack off our arms. ( On
War, tr. Howard and Paret, p. 260)
is the reality. But lethal force is a very volatile quantity in
international relations, to be used with care and precision.
conclude with the following. Above all it will be up to you in the
audience to solve this problem. You hear about war from the old,
like me, and from the genuinely elderly, the veterans of World War
II. But remember that when those men saved our country, they were
young. Think of Saving Private Ryan. Those soldiers were
your age or younger and many of them never had the opportunity to
grow old. Ours is a deeply flawed and imperfect country, but it
is also the freest and most accepting society I know of. But it
can never be taken for granted. It was not somehow put here by the
ancestors, permanently, for our benefit. It survives only because
generation after generation of young Americans have, at some point,
understood the stakes--in the Civil War, in World War II, and renewed
our civic bonds with their own firm commitments. This is not someone
else's country, it is our country, it is your country. With the
events of Tuesday my feeling is that your turn is now at hand. Today,
I think, you who are undergraduates now are beginning for the first
time to feel that responsibility--to keep America free, and democratic,
and sovereign--descending on to your shoulders. It is an awesome
and sacred burden. But I have no doubt that you will rise to the
occasion. I wish you all well.
to SAS Symposium on Terrorism Introduction
(click on names below)
Almanac, Vol. 48, No. 4, September 18, 2001
September 18, 2001
Volume 48 Number 4